April 19th, 2020

The United States’ Pluto Return: A Primer-Part 1

“The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a variety of morbid symptoms appears.”
–Antonio Gramsci

In this 3-part essay, I’ll attempt to put in high detail one of the most convoluted and difficult aspects of the United State’s natal horoscope — the house position of the planet Pluto in the sign Capricorn and the ensuing overture to the nation’s Pluto return — a mega-historical and unprecedented astro-configuration.

Every Person, Place, and Thing Has A Horoscope

“No one knows how you become French — no one knows where Germany comes from — it sort of emerges from the mist. We know the afternoon, July 4, 1776, and we know how to become an American. You come here and assent — then you’re an American. You’re in. You’re it.” –George Will

In her book Soul Sick Nation: An Astrologer Looks at America, Jessica Murray suggests that “…our individual reality and our collective reality are two sides of the same coin. Every culture is blessed and benighted with its own peculiarities, each of which is tailor-made for every individual who chose to belong to that group.”

This begs the puzzling question of volition regarding one’s birth, the notion that the ‘soul’ zeroes in on where to land and set up shop.

But regardless, and if you are an American reading this inquiry, you can simply pause and sense the atmosphere and mood that’s in the air right now; notice how our government has a particular manner in handling COVID-19. Ponder how compliant some of us are when faced with an invisible enemy, while others have politicized the moment, turning the Republican party into a death cult.

Our compendium of group actions and reactions is part and parcel the American experience. Different from how, say, Icelanders are facing the pandemic.

So yes, a country is an abstract of each unique individual that lives within its boundaries. And with that in mind, yes, every country has a birth chart.

As George Will remarked, it’s quite easy to mark the birth of the United States (a more arduous task — sometimes impossible –for other nations or states). For the US we know the exact date. And historians and astrologers, over the years, have rectified the ‘birth time’ to a near-exact moment.

A blueprint for the collective psychology of a country is marked by its moment of independence — just like a person comes into the blueprint of his or her own being after escaping the womb room of his mother, who as Alexander the Great once put it, “…demands an exorbitant rent for nine months lodging.”

And a Pluto return also demands exorbitant repayment, especially when configured as the planet is in the United State’s second house of accrued wealth, power and ownership.

The Returns

You’ve most likely heard about — and maybe even lived through — your Saturn return, and this same cyclic formula is applied to all of the planets, including the Sun and the Moon.

Your birthday is a Sun return, the solar “I am” principle is reignited when the Sun returns to its natal position in your chart, coloring your next journey around the Sun.

A Jupiter return is a twelve-year cycle that, for each of us, revitalizes our enthusiasm for life; our Jupiter return confirms that it is OK to trust in the benign nature of reality.

The Saturn return, around the age of 28, is our first attempt to step onto the stage of life as an autonomous being — free from our family matrix — our parents’ binding doctrines.

A Pluto return no one ever lives to experience unless they are a vampire or Rip Van Winkle.

Pluto takes 248 years to make a single orbit around the Sun and return to its place in the birth chart. A person can’t — but a country can.

And the United States is experiencing its Pluto return right now, the exact return — to 27 degrees of Capricorn –will occur in February of 2022.

With Pluto presently located at 25 degrees Capricorn, we are well within the ‘orb’ of exactitude — a whisper away from the 2022 return.

Right Here, Right Now

What makes this present moment doubly emphatic is that Jupiter has recently linked with Pluto, forming a conjunction — just as the coronavirus pandemic gained traction.

Given that the US’s natal horoscope contains a Sun Jupiter conjunction, Americans are predisposed to ‘larger than life’ experiences, a kind of grandiosity embodied in the compelling notion of Manifest Destiny. A tendency that’s also echoed in our Sagittarius ascendant.

This present Jupiter/Pluto moment is akin to the cosmos saying, “Well, since Americans can’t seem to register anything unless it’s inflated (Jupiter on the Sun) here’s a confrontation with death that is time-stopping, all-encompassing and seemingly directed by Steven Spielberg.

You could say that the just-passing Jupiter conjunction to Pluto amplified the prelude to our actual Pluto return in 2022. And with it, all of the themes astrologers associate with Pluto: breakdown, decay, rebirth and titanic shifts in power. All of those experiences feel inescapable, free from the nonsense of partisanship — like an epic equalizer — which death always is.

But worse, especially for Americans, is that this crescendo into a death state is occurring without any logical meaning.

Jupiter conjunct the Sun, in an individual’s birth chart, can be read as someone who has a specific philosophical view intertwined with all of his experiences. Life (the Sun) has meaning (Jupiter) because some higher-order, enlightened type of reason, or divine protector, decrees it.

The problem with Pluto’s subatomic nature is that there is no moral purpose. As Albert Camus wrote in The Plague, the microbe has no meaning.

Pluto moves in the underworld where the forces that link (and unlink) life operate in ciphers, zero-numbers that we can’t track. Regardless of your religious beliefs, no one’s ever returned from the dead to say: “This is what it’s all about Alfie.”

If you recall your childhood mythology lessons, Pluto was the god that ran around in a helmet that made him invisible.

We can ascertain that given this ‘coming attraction’ phase the Pluto return in 2022 will involve a radical dismantling of the ideological framework we — as a culture — base our lives upon.

Given that money is the predominant religion in America, our 2022 Pluto return will cleave the same demarcation as pre-Great Depression America and post-Great Depression America. Post being the operative marker.

Death on the march, indifferent to borders, as typified in a global plague, works in such a mind-numbing, cut and dry manner. Death usually has about it, always, randomness. As in no one knows the time, the place.

But amidst a pandemic, we sort of do know. It comes down to distinctions like: Inside or outside. Solo or groups. Telecommuting or hazard work. Rich or poor.

‘Out there’ is dangerous. ‘In here’ is harmless. Those who can — sit safely indoors and watch fretfully while other souls are removed from life’s chessboard.

Survivors, like Tacitus and Suetonius who documented life after Nero‘s reign, will stay around to remember and assist other citizens with the reconstruction.

Why This Horoscope?

I want to note why I will work from what’s commonly known as the Sibly chart for the USA.

There are dozens of different birth charts for the United States. Who is to say when exactly sovereignty was declared?

Was it when the first President took office in April, 1789? Or back it up. Was it on July 29, 1775 when the first shots in Concord were fired against the British? Or was it the day Thomas Jefferson first put quill to paper to begin writing the declaration?

During my forty-plus years as an astrologer, I never put stock in any of the various US charts I’d encountered, although almost all of the charts have noted the day the Declaration of Independence was drafted as the country’s true moment of declaration.

As master astrologer Dane Rudhyar notes in the linked article above: “…it can only be to the fact that, with the Declaration of Independence, the people of the Colonies proclaimed to the world — the international environment — that they had achieved the consciousness of unity, a definite individuality.”

Still, there remained a mystery regarding the time of the day it was drafted. And this disputed birth moment is what created an array of different US horoscopes to consider. The birth time is a critical notation that reveals a chart’s ascendant which determines the entire matrix of a horoscope.

But then 9/11 occurred — a coup de main that confirmed the exactness of the Sibly chart’s Sagittarius ascendant, where, on that date, Pluto and Saturn (explosive annihilation) exactly aligned to oppose one another and incinerate the country’s boisterous identity (the ascendant in a chart).

Our Sagittarian ascendant’s push to be seen by the world as ‘the very most‘ — the fastest, the slickest, the tallest. The greatest. All of that dimmed with the fall of the Twin Towers.

Pluto then began its slow crawl back towards its natal position in the national horoscope. Back towards its ‘return’ in the second house.

It was several years after 9/11 that I discovered Jessica Murray’s stupor-cracking book Soul Sick Nation with its detailed analysis of the US Sibly-based birth chart. Her book also included a detailed forwarning regarding the country’s approaching Pluto return.

Murray wrote her book throughout the early 00s and published it in 2006. That allowed us fourteen years — a full Saturn half-cycle (where the planet comes to oppose where it was fourteen years prior and offer a revelation of sorts) — to confirm key points from the book’s premise. Put another way, that fourteen year Saturn transit, after the book was released, allowed us to see Murray’s thesis bloom into a verifiable set of facts.

Our Plutonic Zeitgeist

And that brings us to the historical moment you and I are living through now. Just months away from the orb of its natal return, Pluto began animating creepy phenomena like Donald Trump and the COVID-19 virus; ushering both to the center stage within the theater of reality.

As an astrologer of many years, you’ll have to trust me when I say that even Ray Bradbury couldn’t have written a more firmly established Pluto in Capricorn narrative. CliffsNotes version: A deadly pandemic that is overseen in the United States by a deeply flawed, freakishly narcissistic demagogue who compares himself to Abraham Lincoln.

Not big news here: The United States has suffered before through various subpar presidents, but nothing compares to the grotesque and ghoulish incompetence of the Trump administration operating in tandem with a global pandemic.

But wait, there’s more — other fractured contrasts to boggle the mind.

When you consider that half of the country considers Trump a true ‘man of destiny’ — a patriot and knowledgeable commander-in-chief — you know we’ve reached critical mass, a sort of China syndrome moment for the organization of the nation.

I put a genuine ‘man of destiny’ — Abraham Lincoln — aside Trump in this essay’s opening photo-tableau to illustrate the magnitude of this moment’s schism and to call attention to yet another Trumpian delusion of grandeur.

As of late 2019, impeached president Trump began measuring himself publically, and with more frequency at his various rallies, to Lincoln. He’s boasted that his poll numbers were higher than Lincoln’s — although polls never existed in the nineteenth century.

And, with his characteristic Gemini-driven cerebral discombobulation, he also — while lauding Lincoln, reverse-turned and belittled the president, educating his flock that Lincoln nearly lost the Civil War to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general whom Trump speaks of with reverence. (Always a nod and wink to the confederates in the attic.)

His evocation of Lincoln hit maximum warp when — after mocking Lincoln’s gangly height and stiff gait — he concluded with, “Honest Abe. I liked honest Abe.” (As if Trump had known Lincoln personally, and god knows some in the crowd probably thought he had).

Just at that moment, an audience member shouted back to Trump: “Honest Donald!” Our president smiled and said: “We’ve confirmed.” And then pointing to the imbecile he added: “He says, ‘Honest Donald.’ Thank you.”

Just as our country had a genius soul like Lincoln to oversee two of the country’s most harrowing epics. The untangling of the economy from slavery and the rupture of the Civil War. Lincoln presided over the closing of the valve of those horrors — giving us the 13th Amendment and a reunited nation.

Fast forward to our current ‘war’. Instead of a pathfinder, we have a trickster game show host, who considers himself a ‘wartime president’ on par with Lincoln.

I suppose Trump is another sort of ‘man of destiny’ — but in a twisted way — as a dadaist manifestation of the Kali Yuga (the world’s new dark age according to the grand Hindi cycles of time).

And so this is what our fated moment (as timed by the country’s Pluto return) serves up — a commander-in-thief to shield the country against a viral deathmatch; amidst one of our most vulnerable and defenseless passages as a nation.

Where FDR offered fireside chats to soothe a troubled nation, Trump dispenses 24/7 tweets from the maw of Mordor. Rally cries to the lost souls who find order in his brand of chaos.

A Small View In

The country’s Pluto return is much too detailed and tricky to unpack within a single article, but I recommend that you get a copy of Murray’s book, a guide for prepping your spirit for this mutually shared moment. And the reconstruction to follow.

As mentioned earlier, Murray’s core spiritual tenet is that we each come equipped to meet the Zeitgeist with our unique presence — by offering the culture key gifts, strategies and insights; expressions of consciousness that make us co-creators within this particular timescape. I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.

I’ve no idea if Murray’s notion is legit, I mean it certainly rings true, but I’ve moved into an idealogy-free zone lately, and take comfort in what John Keat‘s called ‘negative capability‘.

Regardless, it’s not necessary to believe or agree with Murray’s notion. We can still study and engage with, through our senses, the epic cycles that astrology helps illuminate. One lifetime, many lifetimes — astrology covers them all.

Murray describes Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn like this — and recall that just days after Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008 the entire global financial infrastructure collapsed. Murray wrote these words in early 2005:

“Pluto in Capricorn will put together the planet of transformation with the sign of government, economics and corporations. Long-unquestioned truisms about business leadership, statesmanship and fatherhood will be challenged…for Pluto is fated to root out the dysfunction within all Capricornian systems: those structured on a hierarchical and or patriarchal model. The shifting of national boundaries and the impact of globalization on the integrity of discrete cultures will beg questions about what actually constitutes a nation-state.”

As regards the Plutonic influence on the American psyche, she writes: “We see in Pluto’s group function that whole sectors of society sometimes have to break down in order to change at all…” As mentioned earlier: American economic policies before and after the Great Depression.

So this gives us the general tenor of the Pluto transit through Capricorn, which of course is happening not just for the United States but for the entire planet.

But what does the natal house position of Pluto reveal? I’ll discuss this in detail, including the US’s meeting with its Guardian on the Threshold in part 2 of this 3 part report.

Make sure you’re on my email list to receive an update for the next installment. And stay safe.

Opening photograph taken from inside my home while sheltering in place. Trump/snake illustration from the magical eye of Tyler Gross from Gross Illustration.


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